Lib Dems demand council Public Question Time

A Lib Dem councillor put pressure on Labour to hold public question time sessions in local council, writes Vicky Beckett.

Cllr Jack Beck challenged Cllr Ann John, leader of Brent council, to allow residents to regularly grill her on local issues.

Ms John refuted the challenge, saying it would be expensive and lack public demand.

Mr Beck said: “In this day and age, the modern democratic thing for any leader to do is to let the public ask questions directly about aspects of policy or decisions of importance to them.

“This is doubly relevant after Labour introduced changes that mean council leaders are expected to be in place for four years unless they are deposed.

“I challenge Cllr John and her Labour colleagues to embrace the idea. This would improve the way all Brent politicians, now and future, engage with residents who put them there in the first place.”

The Lib Dems made a pre-election promise in recent local council elections they would hold a public question time with the leader of the council, if they returned to power.

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Ms John argued that the Lib Dems should have done it during their recent three-year stint in power.

She said: “Maybe the Mayor of London can command a large audience, but I can’t.

“With Lib Dems cutting funding to public service it will cost too much for a small audience.”

She added: “Unless there was a demand from the general public, then, obviously, we would listen very carefully.”